This recipe is from Straits Restaurant, Santana Row. There are so many variations of this salad but this one includes Asian pears, chicken breast, peanuts, banana blossoms, Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil and jalapeno peppers.
1 banana flower blossom, about 1 lb (finely sliced green cabbage may be substituted)
2 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar
8 ounces cooked chicken breast meat, cut into fine strips
2 Asian pears, cut into fine strips (any type of apple may be substituted)
6 tablespoons ginger, peeled and cut into fine strips
1 cup Rau Ram (Vietnamese coriander) or regular mint, loosely packed and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro, loosely packed and thinly sliced
1 cup Thai basil, loosely packed and thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, ground and toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup shallot rings, fried, for garnish
2 tablespoons mint
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 tablespoon lemongrass, finely minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili paste
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Place all salad dressing ingredients into a blender and mix until sugar is dissolved; set aside.
Remove the 4 outer leaves of the banana blossom to use as a garnish; cut off the bottom core and the tip.
Using a sharp knife, start at the top of the blossom and slice crosswise into the thinnest possible strips.
As you move down, you will eventually encounter what looks like tiny bananas; remove all the leaves and discard the baby banana pieces.
Stack the leaves, roll them into a cylinder, and continue slicing.
Place the blossom shreds into a bowl of cold water and add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to prevent the leaves from turning brown.
Use your fingers to separate the slices into rings and let sit for 20 minutes.
Drain and rinse once, but keep in water until ready to use; drain again when ready to use.
Once you have prepared the banana blossoms, place chicken in a bowl and add half the dressing; set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, add the banana blossom shreds, chicken, and remaining salad ingredients, including the remaining salad dressing. Toss thoroughly and arrange on the reserved outer banana blossom leaves; garnish with ground peanuts and fried shallots; serve immediately.
YIELD: Serves 4
SOURCE: Recipe by Chris Yeo, Straits Restaurant